Random Conversations

Does Loss Reshape Us – or Can We Reshape Loss?

Does Loss Reshape Us – or Can We Reshape Loss?

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Or both?

Earlier this year, I lost three friends over a period of five weeks. At age 95, one was somewhat expected. The other two, however, seemed to come out of the blue.

One of those two hit me hard as I tried to process the horrific circumstances that brought his sudden passing. It’s never easy to make sense of the senseless, to think through the unthinkable.

The loss of these friends were in addition to one last year who was just shy of his 99th birthday. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but he once told me he heard a disembodied voice proclaim, “You will live to be 105.” I was counting on 105.

Gone was the ability to talk and laugh together, to celebrate a deep connection over delicious meals and delightful stories. There was no phone to pick up or greeting to write. Instead, there was a void – an emptiness that longed to be filled.

Loss impacts us in a myriad of ways – a life lost, a relationship over, a job ended, and more. Loss is an ever-present part of life. This quadruple whammy gave me pause to reflect.

A Reflection

Three years ago, I kept thinking I should call one of my cousins. Each time I had that thought, I told myself her birthday was coming up soon and I’d call her then. She passed five weeks before her birthday and I still feel terrible that I did not listen to my inner voice.

I promised myself that I would never do that again, and I have not. We can reshape loss by learning from it. I now feel the fragility of life and it highlights the importance of nurturing our relationships. We can never know which conversation will be our last.

We can also reshape it by adding open-hearted, life-affirming feelings of appreciation and gratitude alongside the grief and longing we experience.

With the friends I have lost, I often relive the laughter. (What an interesting word: re-live!) So much laughter over so many years. Hearing that echo fills me with the caring and joy we brought into each other’s lives.

My life is richer for the years we traveled this world together, and I am overwhelmingly grateful that they graced me with their friendship.

Moving Forward

My personal belief is that these friends are still with me, but now in a dimension I cannot yet see. They have joined way too many others who I care deeply about. I fantasize about them getting together and, of course, they’ll be laughing while sharing the best of stories.

I feel their presence in my life and often find myself talking with them. Joyous memories fill my heart, and I cannot help but smile. I keep their birthdays on my calendar and greet them on those days as I would have when I could call. I let them know they are missed and feel the happiness we shared together.

In their memory, I am reminded to keep those dear to me near. We sometimes need that reminder. And that is another way to reshape loss when it inevitably comes – by ensuring each and every interaction we have leaves nothing important unsaid.

That is a gift we give each other.

Photo by Josie Weiss on Unsplash

Cathy Joseph is the author of the Random Conversations blog and is currently seeking representation for her book, The Art of Having a Delicious Conversation.

© 2022 Cathy Joseph. All rights reserved.

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